Preparing for the MCAT is like playing a sport or a musical instrument
. You need to learn some basic knowledge, some strategies and techniques, then practice. Practice a lot. Practice to find your weaknesses, correct them, go back and reinforce the theories and strategies you learned, invent your own strategies, and then practice some more. This is exactly how you should go about studying for the MCAT.
There are three components to MCAT Prep: Content Review, Strategies, and Practice
. Content review you can find here on our website. Strategies can also be found here. Real MCAT practice using past MCAT test questions can be found at the aamc's e-mcat.com. The best MCAT Prep integrates all three components instead of doing them separately. This is what the prep course accomplishes below:
- Start off by brushing up on your knowledge. With the help of our free online MCAT Review, you should be able to do this in one week. In fact, take no more than a week doing content review alone, because content review is most efficient when you are doing practice questions at the same time. Absorb everything in our concise outlines while consulting with your own notes and questions from your classes where needed. Focus especially on the areas you feel weak at. Do all this quick-and-dirty style, don't worry about every little detail. You want to experience a real MCAT test as soon as possible.
- Before you begin your first MCAT practice test, take note of the following strategies. They are simple enough, but very important. You will appreciate them even more after you take your first practice exam:
- Time: you want to work as fast as you can, or you will run out of time.
- Focus: never allow yourself to zone out or get distracted. Have enough stamina and will power to last the 95 minutes before you get your break.
- Keep going: never get bogged down on any single question. Guess and move on. Don't ever waver back and forth between two answer choices.
- Nothing left blank: guess, even if you plan to come back to this question. If you run out of time at the end, randomly fill in every unanswered question.
- Resilience: just had a really difficult question, passage or an entire section? Don't panic, or it will kill your performance for everything afterwards.
- Breaks: take advantage of them. Rest, recharge, and don't ever think about the section you just finished.
- Conditioning: make sure both your mind and your body is in mint condition. Get a good night's sleep, eat well, recharge with drinks and snacks during breaks.
- When you take your first practice test, treat it like the real thing - exactly like the real thing.
No excuses. Use the following guidelines to make the exam real:
- Take the test in the library. It's ok if other people are sitting next to you typing, or even whispering. Train yourself to focus, because these distractions will be at the test center also.
- Use the online CBT format rather than printing the test out. This format is what you'll see on test day, and you can't cheat and give yourself more time, because the computer will cut you off when time is up.
- Cell phone off.
- Start the test at the same time as you registered for the MCAT.
- Take the entire thing from start to finish. Bring drinks and snacks for the breaks.
- Now that you finished a real MCAT practice exam, the MCAT prep really begins. If the MCAT is a virus, then taking a practice test is like getting a dose of vaccine, now you must build an immune response. How should you go about building this MCAT immune response? Use the following as a guide:
- Review and reinforce your strategy: How did you feel about the whole test? Do you need to work faster? Did you get bogged down by a difficult passage? Learn from your experience and make the necessary adjustments.
- Go through each question you missed/guessed. Review the topics of these questions, ponder on strategy, make connections. Do what ever it takes to make sure not only that you can take on these questions in the future, but also that you are able to take on any variation of these questions testing the same topics.
- Crack the MCAT: is there an easy way to do this question? Is there a shortcut? Find out ways to beat the MCAT to your advantage. Check out the MCAT-Review.org Project to get a better idea of how to do this.
- After you have gone through the process of building up immunity against your first dose of the MCAT, go ahead and repeat with a second dose. Repeat this as many times as possible, always following the guidelines above to integrate content review, strategy, and practice. This approach makes your studies extremely efficient and high-yield because:
- You are preparing the right way - for the test, because the MCAT is more than just about knowing the material. You have to take it to discover the different facets to an MCAT exam.
- You are discovering your weaknesses, and not wasting time on stuff you already know. By making mistakes on the practicing exams, not only do you find out what you need to work on, but also it gives you the motivation to do it. When combined with our concise review notes, your MCAT review will be extremely high-yield.
- By developing tricks and shortcuts, you give yourself an advantage over those who just go by the obvious.
with your MCAT Prep, and with your dream of becoming a doctor. Remember to start your MCAT preparations as early as possible.